Baseball

Yes Movement – 2020 Chicago Cubs Player Previews: Descalso & Kipnis, Two Corpses

It is likely that the Cubs may trot out a three-headed monster at second, either until Nico Hoerner is ready or all year if he isn’t. As neither Daniel Descalso nor Jason Kipnis deserve their own entries, given the struggle to maintain oxygen intake both of them have, we’ll smash them together.

Daniel Descalso 2019

82 games, 194 PA

.173/.271/.250 

.238 wOBA, 42 wRC+

11.9 BB%  29.4 K%

0.9 Defensive Runs

-0.8 fWAR

(If you’re a woman and read that you’ll now never be able to become pregnant. If you’re a man…you might be able to become pregnant)

Jason Kipnis 2019

121 games, 511 PA

.245/.304/.410

.301 wOBA, 82 wRC+

7.8 BB%  17.2 K%

4.8 Defensive Runs

1.1 fWAR

What I’m supposed to say is that Descalso’s 2019 was ruined by an ankle injury he tried to play through–a continuing theme for the ’19 Cubs–and made everything worse. Which I guess works if you consider the 101 wRC+, meaning exactly average, Descalso put up in the season’s first month as something worth celebrating. He was woeful throughout the rest of the season when he could even take the field, which wasn’t all that much. Seeing as how Descalso has only had one plus-season offensively, he’s probably closer to this disaster overall than he is a promising bench bat.

Unlike Descalso, there was a time when Kipnis was really good. He has three 4.0+ WAR seasons to his name. They’re just not recently. His offense fell off a cliff three seasons ago when he only played 90 games, and he’s never regained any power since. But he can still play the field well and he makes contact, and the Cubs are seemingly enamored with anyone who can do that at the moment if only to get people to shut up about how they don’t have anyone who makes consistent contact. Maybe the Cubs saw something in his last August when he slugged .525, though he appears to sold out his approach to do that as his walks dipped and his Ks spiked to 22%. On that pace, he’ll fit right in.

YES! YES! YES!: Probably the best case scenario is that neither of them play much. As far as bench players, Descalso is more accustomed to that role, and performed admirably in Arizona as something of a bench player. Kipnis must know that his regular starting days are over, and he does provide the far superior glove to either Descalso or Bote. But it’s hard to imagine, especially when Hoerner is around, that you’d keep a guy around just for his glove and only at second. Descalso can at least claim to be able to stand at first or third, whereas Kipnis has never played anywhere else except for a brief stint in the outfield in Cleveland that they don’t let you talk about within 50 miles of Jacobs Field.

They’re also in the strange position of both hitting left-handed, but a platoon with David Bote is a strange proposition at the moment as it was left-handers that Bote couldn’t hit last year. Maybe that’s a one year blip, but still throws a wrench into any plans.

YOU’RE A B+ PLAYER: Basically if either of them have to play regularly. And that could happen with an injury to any outfielder, forcing Bryant out there more often and Bote to third and these two into the lineup before Hoerner’s time. Or Hoerner falls on his face that already kind of looks like he fell on it. At 33, it’s unlikely Kipnis is going to learn a new trick with is bat slowing down, and basically has to rely on taking a lot of walks to be effective. Descalso is forced into a more regular role than spot-hitter and his high-strikeout ways only add to a lineup that has too many of those anyway. Basically, the Cubs can’t have anyone get hurt at all.

Dragon Or Fickle?: I would imagine it’s neither. Hoerner doesn’t feel or sound like he’ll be in Iowa that long, and unless he starts ingesting whatever Carl Edwards Jr. did he’ll be back quickly. Which means that the Cubs are only trying to get through a month or six weeks without him, which is probably gobbled up mostly by Bote. It’s hard to see where both of these guys are on the team, but at least Descalso has seen success as a pinch-hitter. Kipnis might take to it given the right spots, but you’d lose any value he has by not playing him in the field. Again, if the rest of the lineup clicks you can carry a glove-only guy for a while, but that might end up being what Hoerner is.

The less you see them, it’s the former. The more, the latter.

 

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